Personal Aerial Drones

Hobbyists have already been modifying radio controlled model aircraft to fly by themselves in drone-like fashion. They have added both telemetry and live video links to their flying aircraft. Now, commercial vendors are beginning to develop similar products. They are likely to shrink rapidly in size and cost and become more common. Drones that can connect to each other will be able to network and eventually to self organize into sensor meshes.

Drones Get Ready to Fly, Unseen, Into Everyday Life – [wsj.com]

At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, professor and former Navy fighter pilot Missy Cummings is working with her students to build a “Personal Sentry” drone. Under a military contract with Boeing Corp., her goal is to develop a drone the size of a pizza box with small propellers that can watch a soldier’s back on the battlefield. When a drone sees approaching danger, it will buzz a warning to a soldier’s cellphone.

But the real prize may be in civilian applications. “The military stuff is kind of passe,” Ms. Cummings said. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist from MIT to tell you if we can do it for a soldier in the field, we can do it for anybody.” As a parent of a 3-year-old, she said, she could use the same technology to track her daughter on her way to school (she would need to plant an electronic bug in her lunch box or backpack). That would “bring a whole new meaning to a hover parent,” she said. Schools could even use drones for perimeter control.

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